CAIRO: Egypt has welcomed American and European statements condemning the building of more Israeli settlements in the area of the Abu Ghoneim Mountain in East Jerusalem.
A ministry statement declared that Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit said, “Such clear American statements reflect the stance supported by Egypt, aiming at building confidence between both sides and creating the appropriate atmosphere to embrace the re-launch of negotiations.
Aboul Gheit believes “these statements reflect the international concern about respecting the status of Jerusalem and confronting the continuous Israeli violations, as well as a response to the Egyptian and Arab endeavors to prevent the occupation forces from imposing ground facts that conflict with international law and discredit the negotiations.
Aboul Gheit is pleased with the statements made by US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on Dec. 11 to the effect that the US refuses the creation of realities that could prove to be an obstacle for final status talks on the creation of a Palestinian state.
In a similar vein, the minister welcomed an issued statement by the EU presidency which condemned the expansion of the Abu Ghoneim Mountain settlement. The statement also called on Israel to respect its Road Map commitments and halt further expansion of any settlements.
Aboul Gheit “reaffirmed the Egyptian firm stance regarding Jerusalem and the refusal of any procedure that could change the situation on the occupied Palestinian territories including East Jerusalem, the statement read, “as well as denouncing the Israeli government’s decision to build more than 300 housing units in Abu Ghoneim Mountain at this particular time, prior to resuming negotiations on the final status scheduled to begin on Dec. 12.
Aboul Gheit had previously declared his shock at the expansion plans of the East Jerusalem settlement, which is the Palestinian part of the city. He decried the actions as a direct contravention of the Annapolis agreement recently drawn up between the Palestinians and Israelis.
The minister also claimed that with these actions, Israel had already contradicted the commitments they made in Annapolis.
CEO of the Palestinian Ramattan News Agency Qassem Ali previously told Daily News Egypt that negotiations were always a precursor to the expansion of settlements.
“In the last 10 years since [the] Oslo [accords], the amount of settlement building has increased threefold, Ali said, “negotiations always mean more settlements, because there is increased security for the settlers as there is a supposed peace in place.
“We are chasing an illusion [with Annapolis], Ali added, “It is just an extension of the same old story. The reality on the ground is quite different. Negotiations just mean more settlement building until talks break down over it.